I’m doing better than Martyn when it comes to dropping things in the water. I confess to a handcuff key. So far he’s tossed overboard:
- One handcuff key (OK, probably doesn’t count because he fished it out)
- One slipper in Llangollen Basin
- One glove at the top of the Frankton Locks
- A microfibre cloth at the same location
- Plus a Fitbit!
- And the chimney. We got it back with the boat hook, but I guess that’s put paid to his habit of laying it on the roof while we’re cruising!
It’s hard to believe I haven’t updated this for a week. We’re now nearly back at the beginning of the Llangollen Canal. None of the landmarks that gave us grief on the way up seemed as bad on the return journey, although I walked through the Chirk Tunnel on the pretence of telling Martyn it was clear to proceed! The narrows? No problem. All those impossibly tight bridges on bends? We sailed through them with aplomb. I even bossed the lift bridge at Wrenbury and it’s antecedent tight turn feeling very smug.
We moored up one evening at the top of the Frankton Locks, and walked down the next morning to have a look at the Montgomery Canal.
The lock keeper at the Grindley Brook Locks advised us not to venture down because of the combination of overhanging vegetation and shiny new paintwork, but we’ll have a go next time.
En route we spent a very pleasant couple of days in Ellesmere (not to be confused with Ellesmere Port). Ellesmere is the type of town I could happily live in, small, rural and where residents appear to know each other. Jenny introduced me to Ismay’s, a shop that sells comfortable ladies clothes I can happily wear on the back of the boat, or out and about when I don’t want to look like a feral boater. There’s a nice coffee shop-cum-delicatessen called Moolah staffed by a couple of boaters, an excellent butcher, and a Tesco that doesn’t mind you pushing your bottle-laden trolley back to the boat (as long as you return it afterwards).
According to my guide book there are seven meres close by. Although we wondered after Pennington Flash whether they were the remnants of an industrial past, they are shallow lakes formed at the end of the last Ice Age. Shropshire’s own Lake District as it were, and very pretty.
We made good time through the long stretches of the canal with Wales on one side and England on the other, and then the locks that start with a bang at Grindley Brook with the staircase and become more friendly and better spaced apart afterwards.
Today it’s raining, so it’s the perfect day to hunker down in front of the fire and take stock before we leave the Llangollen Canal tomorrow.